HAVANA TIMES — I love reading Yoani Sanchez’ posts. Her writing has the kind of power many of us want for our own. I can see clearly why she wins international competitions, has become famous and has no shortage of enemies.
I admire her because, instead of leaving the country or using her intelligence for personal interests, as young people with talent tend to do here, she decided to stay and struggle for the freedom and democracy we dearly need.
I am not among those who believe everything she writes is of great value – I tend to agree with the details but almost never with the overall focus she gives the issues.
Sanchez devotes one of her last posts to criticize the campaign against social misconduct and efforts at rescuing lost values being impelled by Cuban media today.
The campaign is indeed ridiculous, tasteless and not very believable. Those at the top wash their hands of everything laying the blame on the family and schools – they are not in the least self-critical and do not even essay a humble confession about the extent to which they undermined the family, the community, culture and social norms, as Sanchez accurately explains.
What could they possibly ask of a people whom they have bombarded for more than fifty years with the example of a rude, aggressive, self-worshiping and lying guy whose political principles consisted in being disrespectful and turning a deaf ear on what others said? Sanchez closes the post asking how we are going to fix this disastrous situation.
I write this post to expound on my idea as to how to fix it. Before, however, I would like to touch on the views of the creator of Generation Y.
I don’t believe the existence of Cuba’s lumpen-proletariat (to call it that) is owed to the bad example set by Big Brother or the huge mess he brought about trying his hand at social engineering.
If that were the case, we would have also imitated his devotion to work, for example, and that was not the case. The “root cause” of our misfortunes, in my humble opinion, is to be found in social alienation, that is to say, in the way people have been denied participation in public affairs, and in the elimination of civil society. All of this is closely linked to the colossal asymmetry between those who rule and common folk.
More Structural than Personal
The emergence of anti-social behavior isn’t accidental (the fact a man with personality problems entrenched himself in power and established an anomalous regime, as Sanchez appears to be saying); the phenomenon has its roots in the property relations that exist and have existed in Cuba since colonial times.
Slavery, exploitation and the alienation brought about by capitalism (and, in the last fifty and so years, the State’s full control over all the means of production) are the structural factors that have turned our noble Cuba into a den of den of vice.
Events that have characterized the history of the regime, such as the disappearance of the middle class, the massive migration of people from the countryside to the city and the crisis of governability brought about by the aging of the leadership, have generalized and made more visible a phenomenon that was already throbbing between society’s tectonic plates.
I will try to say this more clearly, in case I didn’t make myself understood. My comments, I want to make clear, are aimed at, but not against, Yoani Sanchez, Alfonso Borges, the Head of the Ideology Department of the Communist Party Central Committee, the board of directors of the Cuban Radio and Television Institute, Miguel Barniz, the chubby-cheeked hosts of the Round Table and the university professors who are placing their knowledge at the service of the campaign for renewed social values.
We will continue to have social misconduct while people continue to be alienated from the fruits of labor and asymmetrical power relations continue to exist. If we fight the symptoms without treating the disease, if we tackle the revolt of the rabble without addressing its structural cause, we will pave the road towards the creation of new, refined and anti-social elite made up of the national revolutionary bourgeoisie and its ally, the nouveaux riches.
If we want a better Cuba (not merely a Cuba with better makeup, where the masses occupy the place allotted to them), we must struggle against class differences, no matter what forms they assume.